CJBX-FM, Pure Country 93, London
|Astral Media Inc
|Standard Radio Inc.
On June 20, Rick Richardson’s Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd., owner of CJBK 1290, was granted a licence for a new FM station at London. MBL’s new station would transmit an effective radiated power of 50,000 watts on a frequency 92.7 MHz. The station would have a country music format. A competing application for the same frequency at Stratford by Richard C. Wellwood and Neil V. Sinclair, was denied. The 92.7 frequency was allocated to Stratford but the CRTC termed the Middlesex proposal more realistic than that offered by Wellwood and Sinclair. As part of his application, Richardson proposed to purchase a stereo-equipped 30 foot mobile to cover regional events, and to establish a news service with six full-timers, 12 stringers and 30 correspondents.
CJBX-FM (“BX-93”) began on-air testing on November 6.
CJBX-FM officially signed on the air March 3, at 12:01 a.m. BX-93 had a country music format and broadcast in stereo. Opening ceremonies for CJBX took place May 10. BX-93 operated from a brand new 6,000 square foot building, adjacent to CJBK-AM at 743 Wellington Road. The two stations were only connected via the main hallway, basement and newsroom. In all other respects, CJBK and CJBX were two separate entities…entirely separate staff and management…they competed against each other as if they had different owners. The two stations even had separate reception areas, switchboards and phone numbers. The only things they had in common was ownership, accounting and engineering…and call letters… CJBX of course had very similar calls to CJBK’s. McCurdy Radio supplied consoles, turntables and cart machines. Other equipment included Studer tape machines.
Mayor Al Gleason cut the ribbon to officially open the station. Wardens of the six counties to be served by CJBX each planted a tree to mark the occasion. At the same time, the station’s mobile studio – “The Roadrunner” – was unveiled. It would be used to record talent and develop community service throughout the large listening area.
The Collins 22.5 kw transmitter and the 398.6 foot tower were located seven miles east of London, on the 2nd Concession of North Dorchester Township, along the south side of Highway 401, between Dorchester and Belmont. LeBlanc & Royle constructed the tower.
The original announce staff at BX93 featured Robert Q (6-10), Vic Folliott (10-noon), Robin Geoffrey (1-6), Karl Josephs (6-midnight) and Pete Leyland (12-6). The schedule included Weekday Magazine from noon-1 p.m. and part-timers Karen Cooper, Patrick Murphy and Jeff Howard. News staff: Jeff Culp, Scott Metcalfe, Steve Howe (Sports), Andy Oudman, and Rob Shervill. Vic Folliott was program director. Jeff Guy was vice-president of engineering.
In London radio for some time, Janice Zolf made the move to CJBK this year. She would later serve as entertainment reporter on CFPL-TV for many years. Michael Dee Graham joined the air-staff in June from CKGM Montreal. Don “Beau” Dean later replaced Dick Williams & Janice Zolf in AM Drive.
John E. Mackey, formerly general manager at CKGM/CHOM-FM in Montreal, was named vice president and general manager and program director for CJBK. Jim Boyle, executive vice president of Richardson Broadcasters, would continue as general manager of CJBX-FM and as sales manager for both stations.
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CJBX-FM’s licence until September 30, 1985.
Country recording artist, Michael Dee was now morning man at BX-93.
On April 14, the sale of Middlesex Broadcasters Limited (CJBK and CJBX-FM London and of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sarnia Broadcasters Limited (CHOK Sarnia) by Rick Richardson, to Middlesex Lambton Communications Limited was approved. Middlesex Lambton was controlled by Don Patten and Walter and Tony Zwig. Mr. Richardson, who had built up the stations over a period of fifteen years, continued to serve as Chairman of the Board for the new company. The sale closed on May 3.
Former CJBX-CJBK (and CHOK Sarnia) owner Rick Richardson was now chairman of the board of Middlesex Lambton Communications, the company that purchased the stations. The company, owned by the Zwig Family Trust, held a ‘New Beginnings’ party at the London studios on June 23.
CJBX began carrying the BBC World News at 12:07 p.m., Monday thru Friday. News director Gord Harris said it provided a different perspective on international news, one that isn’t influenced by U.S. foreign policy or American public opinion.
D.J. (Don) Peter was appointed general sales manager for BX93 / 1290 CJBK.
More than 65 private radio stations, including the Telemedia Sports Network, celebrated Canada Day by simultaneously airing the national anthem on July 1. Warren Cosford of CJBX/CJBK initiated the project.
On September 2, the CRTC approved the purchase of CJBX and CJBK by London Communications Inc. from Middlesex Lambton Communications Corp. London Communications was owned by Jack W. Schoone and Irving Zucker.
Morning man Michael Dee Graham passed away at age 48 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Chris Harding took over the morning show.
The morning team of Dave & Jacquie joined CJBX-FM from CKSL 1410. At the time, marketing director Randy Timmins noted that Country 92.7 FM was the most listened to radio station in southwestern Ontario.
Country 92.7 reported a 40% increase in the 25-54 demographic (BBM full coverage area) for the morning show, hosted by Dave & Jacquie.
Randy Timmins left CJBX-FM/CJBK where he had been director of marketing.
Radiocorp named Rick Walters as program and music director of CJBX-FM. He had worked at country stations such as CKRY Calgary, CHAM Hamilton and CKQM Peterborough.
Doug Chard, former general sales manager at CHEZ-FM Ottawa, took up the same post at BX93/CJBK London effective September 1.
On July 14, approval came for the purchase of CJBX and CJBK by London Communicaitons Ltd. to Telemedia Radio Inc. Telemedia already owned CIQM-FM London and took posession of CJBK-CJBX on September 1.
Rick Walters left as program director. CIQM’s operations manager, Barry Smith, became PD for all four Telemedia London sations. Chris Harding was Assistant PD.
As a result of the now common ownership of four stations in the London market (CJBK, CJBX, CIQM, and CKSL – Telemedia had repurchased CKSL on October 16), it was decided that the 743 Wellington Road facility would be expanded to also house CIQM and CKSL. CIQM began broadcasting from this location on June 10 and CKSL on November 30.
Jeff Guy retired from Telemedia London on January 26. He had spent 33 years and 3 months with CJBK (and CJOE). Guy was succeeded by Bill Tofflemire who joined CKSL in 1985.
Telemedia Radio VP Braden Doerr, most recently vice president of the Ontario regional group, assumed responsibility for the Southern Ontario cluster (London, Hamilton and St. Catharines). Rick Doughty, VP of Telemedia Northern Ontario (Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Pembroke and Orillia) would continue in that assignment but also added responsibilities as a member of the executive committee of the Ontario division, reporting to Claude Beaudoin, Telemedia executive VP for Ontario region.
Tom Cooke was named to succeed Jim MacLeod as GM of Telemedia’s three Hamilton stations. He had been Assistant GM at the company’s four London stations.
On April 19, 2002, the CRTC approved the purchase of several radio and television stations by Standard Radio Inc. from Telemedia. Standard in turn sold a number of stations to Rogers Broadcasting and NewCap Broadcasting. The four London stations were among those that Standard retained.
On September 27, Astral Media Radio G.P. received CRTC approval to acquire the assets of the radio and TV undertakings owned by Standard Radio Ltd., subject to certain conditions. The purchase included CJBX-FM, CIQM-FM, CJBK-AM and CKSL-AM.
Barry Smith was let go by Astral Media Radio London where he had been brand director (operations manager) for several years. He was replaced by Al Smith, a former London program director who had been working at CHUM Group Radio in Ottawa for the last few years. Barry Smith had worked for London’s Blackburn Radio in the early 1980’s and eventually moved over the competition (now Astral). Astral London chief engineer Bill Tofflemire retired after 25 years with the stations. Tom Cooke was vice president and general manager for Astral Media Radio London.
Effective March 7 at BX93, Dave Collins was joined on the morning show by Rachel Gilbert. She replaced Kim Woodbridge who moved to the morning show at sister station EZ Rock. Gilbert had been doing weekend news.
Hector Card was now chief engineer at Astral Radio London, as of April 4. He had been with London’s BOB FM.
Astral London let six staffers go, including long-time CJBK Assistant Program Director Deacon Ritchie and Chief Engineer Hector Card. Two people in traffic were gone as were one each in news and creative. The traffic function was centralized and was being performed by Astral Hamilton.
On August 8, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CJBX-FM until August 31, 2013.
Gary Grivich moved from Assistant Brand Director/Music Director of the former EZ Rock (now Virgin Radio) London to be ABD/MD and afternoon drive host at BX93.
Colin Botten was appointed Director of Marketing at Astral Radio London. Botten had 24 years in the London market, including 10 years on-air in five formats, radio sales for nine years and five years as Program Director at Corus London. He succeeded Elaine Sawyer who was no longer with Astral London.
Don Chamberlain died at age 73 on January 26. The Saint John native began his broadcast career in Atlantic Canada and became a part-owner of CHYR Leamington and CKJD/CJFI Sarnia and, later, a part-owner of CJBK/CJBX London. Earlier, Chamberlain played an integral role in Jack Schoone’s Eastern Broadcasting chain of stations. Schoone was his majority partner in the Sarnia and London stations. Chamberlain was also the son of Charlie Chamberlain, long an entertainer on the old CBC-TV show, Don Messer’s Jubilee.
On June 27, 2013, after a previous such application had been denied in 2012, the CRTC approved an application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc., including CJBX-FM.
It was announced that Tom Cooke, Vice President and General Manager of Bell Media’s London radio stations would leave August 30. Don Mumford, regional VP, radio and TV operations, Southwestern Ontario and based in London, added Cooke’s VP/GSM role at the four radio stations to his own.
In May, Bell Media rolled out a rebrand (Pure Country) of 12 of its country stations. The stations offered local morning and afternoon drive shows with evening and weekend programming being syndicated. No jobs were lost as part of the changes, as former evening and weekend announcers were assigned new duties. CJBX changed from BX93 to Pure Country 93.
The story continues elsewhere…
Effective September 1st 2019, we will only be adding new material to these station histories in exceptional circumstances. Our intent to chronicle the early days of these radio and television stations has been achieved, and many new sources and technologies, from the CRTC website to Wikipedia, and others, are now regularly providing new information in these areas.